My brother is quite money savvy, especially when it comes to his yearly insurance checkups. Makes sense given his background in finance and accounting. Unlike my younger sibling, I’m no financial savant. I like a bargain and saving money, but only if I don’t have to work for it. With the pandemic lockdown and becoming a single income family, my brother recommended that we review our insurance premiums. Solid advice given all our premiums has skyrocketed this year.
The only problem is I hate asking for a discount. It makes me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family where asking for a discount or perk was normal. Haggling for a good price was common practice within the community that I lived in. Not asking meant being ripped off and as we straddled the line of poverty, being polite or embarrassed wasn’t conducive to meeting our basic living needs. So my parents excelled at being professional negotiators of the discount variety. I guess that trait bypassed me.
Asking for a discount seems rude and makes me feel like a cheapo, especially when the savings won’t make or break the bank. Plus I despise elevator music and the awkward small talk. Have I mentioned that my children rarely give me a moment of peace and expect me to cater to their every whim? It’s virtually impossible to have a phone conversation with anyone. However, a review of our recent credit card statement showing our large contribution to Uber Eats had me feeling guilty enough to make the call.
After listening to wretched elevator music for twenty minutes, a call centre woman from our car insurance company finally took my call.
“Welcome to ***. How can I help?” The woman could barely muster any enthusiasm before heaving a great sigh of annoyance. She didn’t give me good vibes. I found myself anxious asking the question.
“Um… I’d like to… you know… see if I could possibly… maybe… like get a discount?”
An uncomfortable few seconds of silence was followed by another (involuntary?) loud exhale of air. How rude! So what if I was like every Joe Blow asking for a discount? We ARE in a pandemic and money is tight for everyone!
Ten minutes of questions and some ‘professional discretion’ later, I got my discount and it only cost me my dignity.
I decided to compare the premium with another company. I chose an insurance company known for its affordable premiums and top-notch customer service. It was towards the last page of their online quote that I realised someone from the company would call to release the quote.
I wish I hadn’t accepted the call. For an hour I was bombarded with the ‘spiel’. You know, the “How’s your day?” and “But wait, there’s more!” and “At ***, we endeavour to give our customers the best experience and support.”
To be fair, the call centre man was very pleasant and customer focused. But he gave off a used car salesperson vibe. The longer I spent on the phone with him, the more I felt like I was being sucked into a vacuum of despair. There was a litany of questions… unending, eye-stabbing, head-banging questions coupled with useless one-sided banter. I stuck to it because damn it, I wanted that quote! I had wasted so much of my time and effort.
Eventually, he gave me the quote and after learning that it was higher than my current premium, I tried ending the call. I’m a decent person, so the idea of simply hanging up on someone isn’t something that sits well with me but heck, this dude was something else. He wouldn’t take no for an answer even after I told him I had to go to cook dinner and that my children needed me. In the end I had no choice; I hung up.
The dude tried calling immediately afterwards and bombarded me with me multiple emails. Two days later, he called again and left messages to speak to me. By this point, I was kinda freaked out at the stalkerish behaviour and blocked the numbers.
I emailed to the company politely asking not to be contacted again via email or phone. I didn’t like being railroaded. The shotgun approach was disturbing. Can you imagine how many little old women and men must get harassed into accepting a shitty quote just because they can’t say no?
This experience has taught me some things.
One – If I have to speak to customer service, I’d rather deal with a rude but efficient employee to the overly pleasant but dog with a bone salesperson.
Two – Asking for discounts is not my jam.
Three – Be careful of what you wish for.
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